Biotin, a form of vitamin B also known as vitamin B7, is an essential nutrient found in eggs, salmon, avocados, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. Its primary function within the body is to support the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fatty acids. However, biotin has attracted a lot of hype over the years for its ability to improve hair and nail health.
Since a biotin deficiency can lead to thinning, dry hair, many experts allege that incorporating biotin into your daily routine can thicken and stimulate hair and nail growth. While biotin deficiencies are rare, people reap the benefits of higher doses of biotin offered in supplement forms. This uptick in consumption has made biotin known as “hair food,” and rightfully so!
One of the most promising results of increasing biotin consumption is increased hair growth rate when taken daily.
What are the benefits of biotin?
Biotin is available in the form of capsules, tablets, or gummies. It can be found as a stand-alone supplement or as part of a hair supplement or multivitamin blend.
Increased hair health
Biotin supplements are great for those who struggle with nutrient deficiencies to improve unhealthy hair loss and dry, fragile hair. One of the most praised benefits of biotin is its ability to stimulate hair growth, causing hair follicles to thicken and appear more radiant. In one study, participants who took a biotin supplement for 90 days experienced significant hair growth in the scalp affected by hair loss. They also reported less shedding. Biotin has also been shown to promote eyelash growth. Healthy hair and stunning lashes? Win!
Improved skin complexion
A B7 deficiency can lead to significant issues with the skin’s inner health and outer appearance. Dry skin, acne, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis can result from insufficient biotin within the body. Supplements can correct this deficiency and create a youthful, flawless complexion by helping to metabolize healthy fats that contribute to maintaining healthy skin.
Biotin is excellent at improving nail strength and health. A daily supplement can reduce splitting and breakage for those suffering from brittle nails, resulting in increased nail length and cuticle thickness.
Better blood sugar regulation
Evidence shows that biotin lowers and regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels. When paired with chromium, biotin has improved glucose control in those with type 2 diabetes.
How does biotin work for hair growth?
Biotin helps to turn fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids from the foods you eat into the energy your body needs to function. It also plays a role in gene regulation, cell signaling, protein synthesis, and the maintenance of the immune system’s function.
Besides keeping the body healthy, B7 stimulates keratin production in hair and increases follicle growth rate. It helps hair grow longer and fuller by improving hair strength, as it is less likely to break off at the ends. While there is little conclusive evidence that biotin reduces hair loss, it is still a popular supplement for hair, skin, and nail growth and health.
Will biotin make my body hair grow, too?
No! Luckily, biotin will not make your body hair grow extra long. Unlike the hair on our head, body hair gets a molecular signal to stop growing at a certain point. This is why we don’t have to cut and style our arm hair! The only hair on the body that biotin has been shown to thicken is the eyebrows, which is typically a welcome result.
How much biotin should I take daily for hair growth?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have a daily recommended dietary allowance for biotin. Most dermatology experts agree that 2 - 5 mg (2,000 - 5,000 mcg) of biotin is the magic number to increase hair health and achieve results.
When taken regularly, most users report seeing results in about 2 to 3 months, with some reporting noticing improvements in as little as 2 weeks! Since biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, whatever is not absorbed will be excreted through urine.
Biotin can be found in several topical products such as shampoos, conditioners, and serums - though taken orally has a more direct impact and shows results quicker. While no treatment (topical or oral) can produce results overnight, biotin supplements may help expedite your hair growth goals.
What are the possible side effects of biotin supplements?
Taking high doses of biotin supplements can be associated with inaccurate thyroid hormone test results and falsely low results on troponin tests used to diagnose stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular conditions. Tell your doctor ahead of time if you're taking biotin supplements.
Most people can take biotin dietary supplements without experiencing adverse effects, but minor side effects are possible. They include:
- Mild cramping
If you are experiencing hair loss, thinning, or dullness, taking a biotin supplement can restore hair health and thickness. Dermatologists suggest increasing biotin intake between 2 - 5 milligrams can show significant improvements.
Results may show as early as 2 weeks, but most can expect to see a difference in about 3 to 4 months. Consistency is key!
If you are a pregnant woman or are concerned about an underlying medical condition, please speak to your doctor before beginning a biotin supplement.
- Biotin--a regulator of gene expression
- Chromium picolinate and biotin combination improve glucose metabolism in treated, uncontrolled overweight to obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
- A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair
- Biotin Deficiency - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf